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The Chestnut Club

1/8
Photograph: Alicia Cho
Diamond Lounge at The Chestnut Club
2/8
Photograph: Alicia Cho
Chestnut Cup at The Chestnut Club
3/8
Photograph: Alicia Cho
Del Mar lime and kumquat (left) and Lavender gin & tonics at The Chestnut Club
4/8
Photograph: Alicia Cho
The Chestnut Club
5/8
Photograph: Alicia Cho
The Chestnut Club
6/8
Photograph: Alicia Cho
The Chestnut Club
7/8
Photograph: Alicia Cho
The Chestnut Club
8/8
Photograph: Alicia Cho

El Camino at The Chestnut Club

Santa Monica

Exposed brick, sexy lighting and plenty of studded leather sofas—yup, we've got ourselves yet another industrial-chic watering hole. There's nothing wrong with that; it's just the third one in a row from the bartending boys behind Black Market Liquor Bar and Scopa Italian Roots. But hey, Steve Livigni and Pablo Moix's formula works. The vibe is relaxed thanks to a friendly neighborhood crowd, the barkeeps in deep-v t-shirts are accomodating and even the bouncer is polite. We'll even give them brownie points for a classic menu of swills that aren't flashy. A favorite is the Diamondback Lounge ($14), made with rye, applejack and yellow chartreuse. It's boozy as hell, but balanced to a T. Tip: Grab a spot near the large window facing 14th Street for some fresh air and solid people watching.

Vitals

Good for: A post-dinner date spot—just don't expect a view of the ocean, a 20-minute walk away. Unlike its sister bars, the old Central spot off Santa Monica Boulevard is purely for cocktails, meant to be sipped within the sprawling den full of dim lighting and cozy nooks for canoodling. For a friendly outing, it's probably best to keep the party small since high-tops and Chesterfield sofas don't fit more than four. Attentive service makes it all the easier to linger here.

The scene: The crowd on our visit was a lot of locals in their 20s and 30s in topsiders and ripped jeans—bohemian chic, certainly. Chalk it up to the locale. I mean, what else would you expect of a bar on the Westside?

The playlist: A lot of instrumental music, from indie to salsa. They keep the volume just right for neighborly conversation.

The bartender says: Not much, though our server (who was completely slammed) still took a moment to offer up some drink suggestions. We asked for something complex, and she was spot-on with the three-ingredient Diamond Lounge served neat. If you tend to order your usual when out on the town, this is the place to branch out and ask for recommendations.

Drink this: Your best bet here is opting for simple and undeniably strong swills, like the Chestnut Cup ($14) made with gin, Campari, lemon and Orgeat, or the rye-mezcal based El Camino ($14), served with a fancy ice cube carved from a massive block. Then there's the rotating list of bold Gin & Tonics (all $13), featuring kumquat, serrano chili, and lavender for some zest. Don't be discouraged, beer drinkers. There are at least two pages dedicated to draft brews, cans and bottles ranging from $7 to $22.

Venue name: The Chestnut Club
Address: 1348 14th St
Los Angeles

Venue phone: 310-393-1348
Website: http://www.thechestnutclubsm.com/
Opening hours: Daily 5pm-2am
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